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A directions sign is seen at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, in Toronto, in a Jan. 26, 2020, file photo.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

Ontario now has seven confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with the three most recent patients all having recently travelled to Iran.

The outbreak of the virus known as COVID-19 began in China, and that country continues to have the most cases by far, but there have been emerging clusters in other countries such as South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Iran has so far recorded 388 cases and 34 deaths.

In Canada, the most recent cases in Ontario and British Columbia have been in people who had travelled to Iran, and Quebec announced its first presumptive positive case Thursday also had a travel history to that country.

The latest person infected in Ontario is a man in his 50s who arrived in Toronto from Iran on Tuesday and went to the emergency department of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre the next day.

Proper protocols went into place at the hospital and the man was isolated as he was tested for COVID-19, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said in a statement. The man was sent home the same day to recover and has been in self-isolation since then.

“The risk of being infected with COVID-19 in Ontario remains very low,” Dr. David Williams said.

Toronto Public Health is reaching out to people who came into contact with the man.

Health Minister Christine Elliott stressed the low risk to the public, but also said the province is prepared, if the situation escalates.

“We are ready should the situation change from what it is now, but as I’ve indicated, the risk remains very low,” she said. “But it is important for all Ontarians to know we are prepared. Our hospitals are prepared. We have the protective equipment we need to protect our health officials and we are ready to move immediately should the situation change at any time.”

Ontario’s newest case marks the country’s 14th confirmed case, with the other seven in British Columbia.

The head of the World Health Organization said Friday that the risk of the virus spreading worldwide was “very high,” citing the “continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries.”

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